Few climb aboard for Ride the Bus Day

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Members of The Augusta Bus Riders Association (from left) LaTanya Levi, Geraldine Wilson, and Sister Mary Griffin gather outside of Kmart after doing their shopping. Wilson, the coordinator for the association, organized a Ride The Bus day, inviting the public to ride the bus to and from work, to better understand the "everyday plight" of those who rely on it.   EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
Members of The Augusta Bus Riders Association (from left) LaTanya Levi, Geraldine Wilson, and Sister Mary Griffin gather outside of Kmart after doing their shopping. Wilson, the coordinator for the association, organized a Ride The Bus day, inviting the public to ride the bus to and from work, to better understand the "everyday plight" of those who rely on it.

The Augusta Bus Riders Association drew a slim crowd to a meeting Monday at a Washington Road Kmart aimed at exposing the daily struggles of those who depend on public transportation.

Five people, including association members, showed up for Ride the Bus Day. The group’s coordinator, Geraldine Wilson, said she believes many people misunderstood the event, which was to have residents who generally do not ride the bus to rely on public transportation to get to and from the meeting at the store. The association also wanted to collect information from those riders to present to city commissioners in hopes of improving the system.

Many would-be participants were confused and thought they were to meet the group outside Kmart at noon, Wilson contended, saying that would have been only half of the experience.

Despite the low turnout, the association’s members made their struggles and hopes for the transit system known.

“The Augusta public transit system and our city commissioners are not trying to make it easy for their citizens. We feel greatly disadvantaged and put upon,” Wilson said. ”If you don’t plan your trip properly, your entire day is going to be wasted.”

The city’s transit system, which has nine fixed routes, is operated by a private company, Mobility Transit. The company has had issues since taking over the city’s bus system Aug. 1, including complaints that it failed to timely report accidents and was chronically late paying vendors.

Annette McKie, a member of the association, said the system could improve in almost every area.

“Let’s be able to get on the bus earlier in the day. Let there be two buses per route, so you don’t have to wait an hour and 40 minutes between stops,” McKie said. “If you’ve got one bus going down a route, you should have another coming up. Let’s have them drive a little bit later at night, because if you ain’t on somebody’s bus by 5:30. you’re out of luck. You better have somebody’s number you can call to get a ride or you better get some good shoes on.”

Sister Mary Griffin, a Catholic nun and association member who said she rides the bus three or four times a week, was unhappy with the number of buses per route and the distance between stops. To get to the noon meeting, Griffin said she had to board her first bus on Walton Way at 10:10, then take another at 10:30 to make the meeting on time.

Griffin said the time gap between buses at a particular stop, sometimes longer than 21/2 hours, means planning her day around when she can get on a bus.

“Every day, this is what we have to put up with,” Wilson said. “Good days, we’re out here; bad days, we’re out here. We’re just trying to get the general population to see what we go through on a regular basis.”

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dpresnell
12
Points
dpresnell 07/23/12 - 06:32 pm
1
1
Why I did not make it to K-Mart....

I posted previously to the article from last week. I did not check schedules before I started out. I live on 300 blk of Broad. Waited at 3rd and Greene for the no. 3 bus from 11:45 to 12:45. No luck. Doubt had I been at the bus stop at 9th and Greene that I would have boarded a no. 3 at 12:00. What's the point of walking 5 blocks on an extremely hot day to catch a bus that I then travel only a short distance to the transit "center" to change to the next bus ? What if I only want to get to Kroger on 15th - might as well prepare for the long walk and hope I don't get heat exhaustion before I starve to death or fill a prescription.

Just My Opinion
5202
Points
Just My Opinion 07/23/12 - 07:03 pm
2
0
If the commissioners are so

If the commissioners are so confident that there aren't any problems with the bus routes and times, how about each of them go to the furthest spot in their district where the bus picks up people, coordinate their bus trip so they can make a noon meeting downtown, and then take the bus BACK to their original starting point! Now, THAT would be an interesting ride, wouldn't it?? I'm still hoping some savvy reporter with the Chronicle or with WRDW Channel 12 (not up Ch. 6 or 26's alley to do something "newsworthy" like this!) will pick up the challenge and do a story on this and test out what the complainers are really talking about.

itsanotherday1
39417
Points
itsanotherday1 07/23/12 - 07:23 pm
1
0
Your kidding JMO; at least

Your kidding JMO; at least one of them would probably have a stroke or heart attack just walking to the bus stop.

That IS a challenge that should be thrown down to them however, and a great idea! Of course, the politicians from county to the Whitehouse don't think they have to live like the commoners.

DMPerryJr
1698
Points
DMPerryJr 07/23/12 - 07:55 pm
1
0
JMO

Quality post! Would love to see your hypothetical situation come to pass in real life.

nocnoc
37435
Points
nocnoc 07/24/12 - 08:39 am
2
0
Slim turnout pretty much says it all

Here we have a group promoting the use of Augusta's Bus system and they mimic the complaints about the bus system almost to every point.

Confusion, misinformation, lots of talk, lack of support and failure to deliver.

Like the article said 5 people showed up. This is like the rider numbers per mile using some of the bus routes every day.

I know it is politically unhealthy this time of year to suggest doing the right logical and financial thing. But if a bus route doesn't have the rider support that meets the financial demands it places on taxpayers then eliminate it. Or, at least adjust it to be a lesser drain on the taxpayers.

If Augusta is going to run a bus line then changes must be made. Whether the changes are politically safe or not. It is time cap off this money pit that has not financially worked since the mid 1970's, when downtown died due to the malls.

After all is said and done, why should county taxpayers continue to foot the bill for the city's political appeasement of so few. Remember, City mass transit is not an "Entitlement".

dpresnell
12
Points
dpresnell 07/24/12 - 11:06 am
0
0
@nocnoc: slim turnout ? could

@nocnoc: slim turnout ? could mean two things: one, inefficient system yields little turnout as opposed to lack of ridership altogether. So often gov't sets up a program, system, etc. (childcare e.g.) and it is done in a way that doesn't accomodate. Then, they say that no one was using it so we had to scrap it. If the program, system, etc. comes up again, they can say "we tried it and no one took advantage of it". The bus system was instituted how long ago ? Haven't the needs changed ? Hasn't there been relocations of businesses and industry ? How we shop for food (no more corner stores) ? Can't the system adapt ?? Yes it should be efficient. Is there anyone capable of redesign w/o politics or more $$ being spent for the redesign ?
Surely there's someone out there who could get the job done.

DMPerryJr
1698
Points
DMPerryJr 07/25/12 - 01:38 pm
0
0
Good Points dpresnell

It's just one more way the least of people get the shaft.

Not everyone can drive. And someone who CAN drive but just does not have personal transportation might simply be a hard working person just barely getting by.

Shame on the officials who can't get the public transportation working well. Even Mussolini made the trains run on time.

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